Saturday, June 5, 2010

Farewell to the Brants - Beach Walk to Edmonds on 5-16-10

At least once every spring, when the low daytime tides along Puget Sound are favorable, I walk the beach from my house to downtown Edmonds, about a mile and a half.  Our house, though not right on the water, is about 700 feet from the shore as the crow flies, or perhaps a five minute walk up our street, then a right turn down another street.  Our neighborhood has a private access to the shore via an easement between two houses. The easement primarily serves as an access for the city to a sewer lift station.  The last hurdle is to cross over the railroad tracks and scramble down the rip-rap to the beach.  These tracks, owned and operated by BNSF, run along the shore here from Seattle to Everett.  These are busy tracks, lots of freight, Amtrak Cascades and Empire Builder, and the Sounder commuter train.  The neighborhood fronts along Browns Bay, a broad swath of a bay on Puget Sound that is rather open to to the Sound without much protection when the wind churns up the waves, such as they are on the Sound.

During the springs months, Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans), gather along the shore, fattening up on eel grass (Zostera sp.) before migrating north to their nesting grounds high up above the Arctic Circle.  Brant are a smallish goose, about the size of large Mallard.  Eel grass comprises about 95% of their diet so preserving eel grass habitat is important for these little geese.  I saw quite a few Brant during the walk.  Soon they'll be gone until next spring.

There's a local group here dedicated to protecting and preserving the Brant:

Washington Brant Foundation

At the southern end of Browns Bay is a large rock that is even large enough to appear on the Edmonds East USGS 7.5-minute topographic map.  It must have a name.  I'm sure the native Americans had a name for it.  The base of the rock is exposed only on the lowest tides and with it sea-life seldom seen in the open air.  A former work colleague who was an avid scuba diver told me that there are many more large boulders like this just offshore here.  Likely they are huge drop stones released from the melting glacier some 13,500 years ago at the end of the Vashon stade.

At one time, I believe a telephone line ran along the tracks.  Occasionally, I find the old glass insulators on the beach, some relatively intact, some well worn beach glass.

And always an abundance shells.  The carapace of the Red Rock Crab (Cancer productus) seems to intensify its red color in the drying sun.

A lone kayaker.

The USCGC Healy, US Coast Guard''s newest and largest polar icebreaker, commissioned in 1999 and berthed in Seattle.  Heading out for Arctic West Summer Cruise 2010.

Someone had arranged clam shells along this driftwood log.

The Washington State Ferry, M/V Puyallup, leaving Edmonds for Kingston on the Kitsap Peninsula, about a half hour cruise.

The Edmonds ferry dock, my final destination.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! You should have been a writer! You could write one heck of a trail guide with your great detailed descriptions and geology knowledge....and knowledge if everything else!